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3 teams start redemption tour

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Games today:

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4:30 p.m. — Terrafirma vs Converge

7:30 p.m. — NLEX vs NorthPort

Three teams who were ousted early in the previous tourney are set to kick off their revenge tour when they see action in the Philippine Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

All eyes will be on Terrafirma and Converge when they collide at 4:30 p.m. for their first taste of PBA action since falling short in the Commissioner’s Cup last month.

Meanwhile, NorthPort, which also had an early vacation in the import-laced tourney, will put its souped-up roster to test when they battle NLEX in the second game at 7:30 p.m.

The Dyip and the FiberXers had a forgettable Commissioner’s Cup stint.

Terrafirma won only twice in 11 games while the FiberXers finished with a dismal 1-10 win-loss record, prompting them to go hard in their battle to post a huge win that would set the tone for their redemption campaign.

Converge coach Aldin Ayo is set to come up with new strategies to pump life into their campaign despite the absence of Cebuano hotshot Mac Tallo, whose contract was forfeited after being found to have played in an unsanctioned tournament.

Also shooting for a hot start will be NorthPort.

After falling short of reaching the playoffs of the Commissioner’s Cup despite posting an impressive 115-101 win over heavyweight San Miguel Beer on 8 December, the Batang Pier are expected to sizzle early, thanks to their activation of former University of the Philippines star Zavier Lucero.

Taken with the fifth overall pick of the previous draft, the 6-foot-7 swingman is set to make his NorthPort debut after getting the green light to replace John Amores on Thursday afternoon.

It’s going to be Lucero’s first official game after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear during the finals of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament in 2022.

Lucero will be joining a solid core of young guns like Joshua Munzon, Cade Flores, Fran Yu and Bren Paraiso with veteran Arvin Tolentino serving as their leader.

But a tough challenge is facing Lucero’s pro league debut.

NLEX, a team busy retooling its roster as early as last conference, is also determined to go book an early victory that would pave the way for their first title run since joining the league in 2014.

Robert Bolick, the team’s newest top gun and ace playmaker, had already settled in after playing a few games with the Road Warriors last conference.

Aside from Bolick, the Road Warriors also acquired hardworking forward Ato Ular and veteran slotman Yousef Taha in a deal that sent Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser to TNT Tropang Giga.

Baser Amer, a former player of NLEX coach Frankie Lim in college, was also added to provide balance and stability in the backcourt.

“We’ve become more balanced right now, but of course, it remains to be seen how well we can perform,” said Lim, who will be in his fourth conference with the Road Warriors.

Lim, a multi-title coach in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, is looking to lead the Road Warriors to the playoffs after they bombed out in three of his first four conferences with the squad.

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